One Relationship Rule That Will Drastically Change Your Life Forever

 Happy group of co-workers standing in office

“Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”

This memorable line is by former President George W. Bush as he spoke at the memorial service for the 5 slain Dallas police officers. Mr. Bush was brief in his remarks. Only 6 ½ minutes. But they were passionate. Powerful. And penetrating. His words have been tweeted. Retweeted. Posted on facebook.  And the subject of newspaper articles and TV news shows.

President Bush’s quote has application to any relationship. For the word “groups” substitute the word family. Community. Churches. Clubs. Preachers. Christians. Police. Black men. White men. Hispanics. Jews. Republicans. Democrats. The list is endless.

Indeed it is difficult to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. What do they feel? How do they think? Why do they act the way they do? It’s so easy to judge someone else without any understanding of their motives. That’s why Jesus commanded “Judge not that you be not judged” (Matt 7:1). In that text Jesus is condemning hypocritical and hypercritical judgment of others. Not a discernment based on righteousness, reasonableness and facts.

One of my favorite authors, anonymous, expressed the challenge we all face this way.

When the other fellow takes a long time, he’s slow.
When I take a long time, I’m thorough.

 When the other fellow doesn’t do it, he’s lazy,
When I don’t do it, I’m busy.

 When the other fellow does something without being told, he’s overstepping his bounds.
When I do it, that’s initiative.

 When the other fellow overlooks a rule of etiquette, he’s rude.
When I skip a few rules, I’m original.

 When the other fellow pleases the boss, he’s an apple polisher,
When I please the boss, it’s cooperation,

 When the other fellow gets ahead, he’s getting the breaks,
When I manage to get ahead, it’s the reward of hard work.

The context around the President’s quote is also worthy of our consideration.

“At times, it seems like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”

The President then added, “And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose. But Americans, I think, have a great advantage. To renew our unity, we only need to remember our values. We have never been held together by blood or background. We are bound by things of the spirit, by shared commitments to common ideals.”

The biggest challenge to applying President Bush’s remedy to this problem is agreement on what unifies us. Many today reject the “things of the spirit.” “Common ideals” on which America was founded are increasingly becoming uncommon. And the moral, ethical and Biblical values generally held by most citizens and groups are being replaced by an attitude of “no absolutes.”

All this offers Christians a great challenge to really be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt 5:13-16). To give others the benefit of the doubt. To seek to understand the other person’s point of view. To be charitable in our pronouncement of people’s motives.

John Maxwell expressed our problem this way. “Most people use two totally different sets of criteria for judging themselves versus others. We tend to judge others according to their actions. It’s very cut-and-dried. However, we judge ourselves by our intentions. Even if we do the wrong thing, if we believe our motives were good, we let ourselves off the hook.”

The one principle of all human relationships that will forever change your life is practicing the golden rule: Treat other people the way you want to be treated (Matt 7:12).

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman



Filed under Relationships

8 responses to “One Relationship Rule That Will Drastically Change Your Life Forever

  1. Dave

    What happened to those innocent police officers or those people in France last night is not hard to judge. No I am not perfect by a long shot but there is no may to fill in the blanks for what people like this do. A lack of moral judgement is ruining our country and the world as a whole. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. I know you are not doing that but we as a nation are. When we stand against evil then we are standing for good. Thanks for your wise thoughts.

  2. Ah…the Golden Rule…so simple yet so difficult to live by.

  3. Yes, it is best to treat others as we want to be treated, and it is best to credit the good intentions of others even if the result of the actions isn’t what we wish for.
    There are of course some actions that demand judgment on the act itself, like a person plowing through a crowd with a van, or a sniper shooting police officers who were actually protecting the public at the time, even if the shooter felt he was responding to a situation where police officers didn’t protect…
    But as Christians, even then, it is good for us to apply mercy. To try to understand the reason even if we can never condone the action, and to pray for the repentance and salvation of those who commit such acts.

  4. Ken, I’ve thought about this many times, but you have really clarified and nailed it. Thanks! I posted to FB and Twitter. Blessings!

  5. It seems such a simple rule to live by, yet our world demonstrates it is not – or at least, it is not chosen by those intent on doing evil. I continue to be saddened and honestly, confused and horrified by the acts of violence people can commit on their fellow humans- with no conscience, and with no remorse.

    I’m impressed with former President’s Bush’s heartfelt comments, as a true American – moreso than the words of the current president, at least the latter portion of them, which were just part of his political agenda – and totally out of place at that memorial service.

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